Cardinals catching option No. 2: Andrew Knizner
Andrew Knizner has been with the Cardinals since 2019. Now in his fifth season, he looks to be a career backup. Though he generally hit well in the minors, he has yet to show real offensive upside at the MLB level. He added some power in 2023 but sacrificed roughly 60 points of OBP to do so. Either version of Knizner grades out as a significantly below-league-average hitter. Fortunately for Knizner, he has a strong defensive reputation. He is also well-liked in the clubhouse. Pitchers rave about his prep work and his ability as a receiver. The statistics largely bear this out, as Knizner has been a better defensive option in 2023 than Contreras.
Knizner likely has the least trade value of the three catchers. He has less control and far less offensive upside. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to predict what the Cardinals will do at the upcoming deadline. Will Knizner's low external value prevent a move? Or will his low internal value facilitate a move? Knizner's strong defensive resume and his reputation as a popular guy in the clubhouse make him a more valuable player than his surface-level statistics show. He is, at the very worst, a slightly above-average backup catcher who provides strong leadership.
Using the past several seasons, it is safe to assume that as long as Knizner remains on the roster, he will serve as the backup catcher. If Knizner makes the 2024 Opening Day roster, he is likely to play between 60 and 70 games. Some of these games will represent starts, but many will be games in which Knizner enters as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement. His bat is not strong enough to force his way into the lineup as a DH or at another position.